We had the good fortune of connecting with John “Jay” Lotspeich and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi John “Jay”, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Most important factor to my success? That’s a bit loaded, like asking a parent to pick a favorite child; “It’s you, I promise. You’re my favorite.” I wish it was as simple as that, one major factor that you could pinpoint and share with others. Maybe it is beyond the ideas of a physical thing or person, more than just a single moment or decision. There are a lot of links in the chain that lead me to here, so let me share the most influential bit of advice I got that helped direct the current direction of my brand: “Choose your niche”. At the time I was creating designs for anything and everything that I liked, everything that was trending heavily on social media, or that I found connection to and would then I would run with that, chasing as many tangents as I could come up with (a bad habit I picked up while designing for a t-shirt design company). My store was flooded with designs inspired by music, movies, LGBTQ, Vikings, superheroes, gaming, sports, current events, holidays, and the list goes on. While I may have connected to all of those on one level or another and while there are markets out there for these designs it makes it difficult to come up with a brand identity. Once you nail down the niche you are most passionate about, you’ll surely knock out a lot of brilliant ideas before you may realize that you can “cross the streams” of your passions. Just because you are focused on a niche doesn’t mean that others can’t influence it. Use them to sprinkle flavor across your offerings. That’s really where you will start to develop your unique signature because you are now using multiple passions in a focused way and that injects diversity into the niche you decided to focus on. Rebuilding the offerings in my shop and focusing on a single niche along with decreasing the amount of products I was offering my designs on made the shopping experience much cleaner and helped me to connect more deeply with my fans and followers on social and as those connections have grown stronger the number of fans has grown in response and all of that builds out to better performance in your shop.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think it is the blending of various passions and skills that I have in working across a variety of mediums that gives me a slightly different flavor in what I offer through my designs or my art. One thing that took me a long time to truly understand is that in one’s creative pursuits there is no right or wrong way to accomplish a task or goal (and this applies far beyond just creating art). Sure there are certain techniques and processes that are going to give the best results (as in cooking for example), but stepping outside of those “guides and rules” and being creative within the creative process itself was how I’ve discovered interesting effects and interactions between the different mediums and applications. Discovering a new technique or process then sparks that creative engine into how to use this new bit of information in future pieces or how it can improve previous processes. Regularly pursuing this kind of Mad Hatter logic makes expanding into new areas less scary and as that fear drops your confidence begins to grow and you will see that reflected in your creations and in your interactions with your fans and followers.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There are three major reasons we chose Tucson when we moved from Rhode Island; the hotter climate, the wide culinary variety and the amount of outdoor spaces to explore. While we haven’t had our first visitors yet, they would be treated to some of the most beautiful trails that end in glorious sunsets (Saguaro National Park, Mt Lemmon. Devil’s Bridge) We will venture across this awesome city and expose them to some of the best eats we have found or, better yet, to new places we have still yet to try (there are just way too many I want to list here). 4th Avenue on a Friday or Saturday night is also a must to experience. But we are also still new to Tucson and Arizona so there are a lot more places we have yet to explore for ourselves that I’m sure we will want to share with our friends and family as they come to visit.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This is a challenging question because I have been truly lucky to have so many people help me in so many ways over the last year. My partner, Scha, for her utter faith in me to take this and make it work and Drew of Norse Foundry who connected me to my first dice vault partner.

Website: https://www.etsy.com/shop/88Riddles

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/88riddles/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/88riddles

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/88RiddlesDesigns

Other: https://www.tiktok.com/@88riddles Or if you want everything on one webpage https://linktr.ee/88riddles

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.